Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just how many Millionaires are there in India?

Its better to be roughly right than precisely wrong
Since the compilation of any list of Millionaires is bound to be imprecise for a variety of reasons, chief among them being secrecy and the fluctuating valution of asset classes, i would only use rough estimates here.
We often come across new studies by esteemed sources like Forbes who claim there are 1 Lakh millionaires in India where a millionaire is defined to be one having liquid wealth of at least 1 Million dollars.As soon as these reports are published in media, commentators jump up and say there would be these many millionaires in 1 geography alone: say South Mumbai or South Delhi.
Here I have attempted to answer this question from a different angle: compiling the total liquid wealth in India.
As i understand following are the different liquid asset classes:

  1. Cash:As per latest RBI figures total cash in circulation is about Rs 6 lakh crores.
  2. Bank Deposits:As per RBI again, total bank deposits are about Rs 35 lakh crores.
  3. Equity: As per this report in Times of India, the breakup of ownership of top 500 companies is: -23%,Government-22%,Promoters-29%,Corporates-4%,Rest-22%).These companies constitute 93% of stock market cap of India as per the same report. Since the number of promoters would be few thousands and is not a signifcant number compared to upwards of 1 lakh Millionaires, the total equity wealth avaiable to potential millionaires is about Rs 10 lakh crores
  4. Bonds:As per a recent ADB report, Bonds are about 40% of GDP of which more than 50% is owned by Banks and RBI and rest by MFs,LIC,PDs etc. So a maximum 10 lakh crores is available to potential millionaires from this avenue.
  5. Gold:This is by far the most democratic asset class as far as India is concerned since Indians own about 14,000 tonnes of it(source) which includes jewlery.Some people have even wilder estimates at 25,000 tonnest e.g. Taking a price of Rs 13 lakhs per kg, Gold accounts for about Rs 18 lakh crores of wealth.
The window for overseas asset ownership has recently opened and must be having modest assets. i hope no significant liquid asset class is missing here. So the potential millionaires have a total liquid wealth of about 80 lakh crores available to them. If one attributes this entire wealth equally distributed among millionaires we can have 16 lakh millionaires in India.But that would leave about 120 crore Indians penniless.Randomly assuming an average wealth of 2 million dollars for all millionaires and attributing half of the nation's significant liquid wealth to them (randomly again) gives us a more plausible maximum number of 5 lakh millionaires in India.

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